As his career is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Edmonton boxer Ben Alvarez plays and replays the video of his first professional fight.
“When I watch it again, I still get the pre-fight nerves,” he says. “I still get goosebumps.”
Alvarez graced the cover of the August 2019 issue of Avenue, when he was an up and coming Edmonton athlete about to go pro. Alvarez’s family came from Chile to Edmonton when he was junior-high age, and he started training at Panther Gym in Oliver. He became provincial champ, and then made the decision to go pro.
Alvarez fought Jorge Luna in February, and dominated the fight throughout both rounds, dropping his opponent with a right hand to the head at the end of the first round. Just two minutes into the second round, after a barrage of body shots, Alvarez finished him with a left hook to the body, which sent his opponent to the canvas — and the contest was over.
“My coach, Carlos Barragan, made it clear that I needed to bring in the ‘wow’ factor,” says Alvarez. “He said that if I didn’t knock Luna out in the first or second round, he would send me home, because I’d be wasting his time, and mine.”
And, before the pro debut, Alvarez was brought in to be the sparring partner for Canelo Álvarez, the rock star of the sport, ahead of Canelo’s championship bout against Sergey Kovalev.
“The first couple of times I stood in the ring against him, I was star struck. I couldn’t believe Canelo is standing right in front of me,” says Ben. “But I was told to push him hard, to give 150 per cent. But, while he was getting something out of it, my coach told me that I had to do it for me.”
Ben hopes he can fight again before the end of the year.